I know it's much too early to know for sure where guys will be playing and where they will be on the depth chart, but using information provided by the Colts staff and knowledge of the team, I figured I'd take a fun crack at it and see how close I am come kickoff this September. I know I'm not going to be 100% right, especially when it comes to the exact backups for certain positions, but here is my positional depth chart for the Colts:
via @CAeveryday - i.imgur.com
Some notes on why I put guys where:
- Mathis is going be the Colts primary pass rusher, switching sides of the ball this year. The coaching staff has been adamant in saying that Walden will be starting opposite, especially after that pretty contract he just signed. I have 1st round draftee Bjoern Werner as his backup, but it seems obvious that the two will split time. Walden on running downs and Werner on pass rushing downs. Based on our knowledge of Walden, this split time suits him best and he plays well when he does so. This also should allow Werner to develop nicely. I'm excited for this combo. Sidbury could see backup time as a backup (just realized I forgot to take Hughes out...forget that detail, haha).
- I really like Sheldon Price (UDFA) and was actually the only player I had mocked to the Colts who ended up with them in the end. He's under built, lacks strength, and was poorly coached but I think he has great skills and measurable that Pogano and the training staff can tap into. He could very well jump into a backup role and become a solid player. Daxton Swanson is another player to keep your eyes on in the secondary.
- Boysett should be able to immediately take over the backup safety position. He's talented and saw a draft day fall because of his knee injuries. He's naturally a strong safety, but should develop well under Landry and Bethea and become a respectable backup next year, something that was desperately needed. He has the skill-set to become very good if he can turn the corner and continue to develop.
- I still truly believe (though I am in question) that Chapman will be the game 1 starter at NT. He needs to prove he can play and hasn't lost a beat, but he was a great player for Alabama's National Championship teams. If he fails, Franklin can step in and newly drafted Hughes could also fill the roll once he gets up to speed. I have Hughes as the backup DE for now because I think he will be the mot productive at that position behind Redding, barring Champan's failure.
- Sheppard is a solid ILB backup. He's not flashy, but he'll do the job and was well worth the trade from the Bills.
- Thronton was drafted to be the starting RG, pure and simple. While he played LT and LG in college, Thomas seems to be solidified at that spot and the RG position is just calling for Thronton to stand in. Reports across the league are that this guy is an absolute stud and will develop into one of the best guards in the league. The depth players at the guard positions are a toss up, they could be slotted on either side or even as a backup tackle. One this is for sure, they won't be starting (cue cheers). Khaled Holmes being drafted put Satele and Shipley on notice: improve or your time is limited. I think Holmes is a little raw right now to start at center, and Shipley could very well take the starting job with Holmes coming in sometime during the season, but for now I think the coaches will hope Satele can shake off a terrible season and be the starter this year.
- Vick Ballard should be the starting running back with Donald Brown as his backup to start the season. I think they will give Brown another chance, with a much improved offensive line and fullback group, to see if he can live up to his first round pick. Williams could creep into the RB rotation during the season if he proves his skill-set translates to to the NFL, but I am going to say he'll be the Kick Returner almost immediately... the kid can return the ball, that's for sure! I see Williams being a Sproles-type of a player and exciting to watch.
- Other Notes: The receiving corps shouldn't change much, though I'm interested to see if Griff Whalen does something this year and makes the 1st team. Sampson (UDFA) has a chance at making it in as a depth player. DHB, Hilton, and Wayne are going to be fun to watch. Cunningham AKA Mr. Irrelevant won't see much action in the play-calling, especially with talents like Allen and Fleener manning the TE spots, but he is reportedly an outstanding blocker, which is always useful in a West Coast Offense. Moore and Havilli will be respectable fullbacks.
What do you guys think? I'm interested to see how the positions pan out, but one thing is for sure: this Colts team looks great on paper and is much improved. I can't wait for the season to start!